Monday, 21 January 2013

Risotto- Getting the basics right

It's something that as a dish, it's like coming home. It's warming, and never wrong.

A very versatile dish in that ANY flavour can be used to make this awesome italian peasant dish. Use only Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice. These two are more expensive than arborio, but have infinitely better absorption.

1 medium onion fine diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 cup carnaroli rice (this will almost quadruple in quantity)
1/2 cup white wine
2 Litres stock (either fish or chicken depending on your flavour) 
Flavour (peas, pumpkin, ham hocks, prawns etc)

In a large base saucepan, on med - high heat, sweat the onions and garlic with a little salt (sweat means to cook without colour) for 2-3 mins. Be careful not to have the heat too high, or the onions and garlic WILL burn. 

Add the rice and stir well. When the rice sounds like it’s popping, add the wine and cook until evaporated. Then add your stock, enough to just cover the rice, and turn down the heat enough so you can see the rice just ticking over. 

Cook the rice until all the liquid is evaporated, and add more stock and repeat the process. The rice is ready when you take a grain and bite into it and it is firm but not crunchy and you can see a small circle of white inside the grain. 

Then make sure the liquid has fully evaporated and take the rice out of the pot and lay out on to cling film or baking paper. Spread the rice out to cool it down quickly. 

Spread the Risotto over Cling Film. It helps the grains cool down quicker
Next step is to sort out the flavouring. 
For example, I’ll use Pea as a flavour. Take 500g peas, frozen or otherwise and blanch quickly in boiling salted water for 2-3 mins. Then strain them into a colander and put into ice water straight away. 

Once cooled, take 300g of the peas and puree them in a blender until smooth. Set the other 200g aside. Take your risotto, and place into your large base saucepan again, roughly 100g per person. Pour in enough stock to just cover the rice and cook on high heat for about 7 mins. 

When the liquid is almost evaporated, add the pea puree and the peas to the rice and finish cooking (until no liquid remains). 

Then with a wooden spoon work in grated parmesan (fresh is always best!) and butter. The amount depends on you. The cheese will make the risotto drier, and the butter will make it more smooth, creamy and delicious! Finish with salt, fresh cracked pepper, and more parmesan. 

As I said before, risotto can be made with any flavour, just make sure you know which one before you start, but the base will always be the same. 
Buon Appetito!

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